Rocket Test Failure Close to Town Causes Explosion

July 1, 2024

Rocket Test Failure Close to Town Causes Explosion

On June 30, social media platforms in China buzzed with videos and eyewitness accounts of a startling incident in Gongyi City, Henan Province. Users shared footage of what appeared to be a cylindrical object trailing fire as it fell from the sky, followed by an explosion upon impact.

The incident was later confirmed to be a failed test of the Tianlong-3 rocket, conducted by Space Pioneer (Tianbing Technology), a private space company. The test, involving the first-stage power system of a large liquid-fueled carrier rocket, resulted in the rocket breaking free from its test stand and crashing into a nearby mountainous area.

According to Space Pioneer, the incident occurred at 3:43 PM when the first stage of their Tianlong-3 rocket ignited successfully, achieving 820 tons of thrust. However, a structural failure at the connection between the rocket and the test stand caused the vehicle to break free. The onboard computer shut down the engines, and the rocket fell approximately 1.5 kilometers southwest of the test site, disintegrating upon impact.

The company emphasized that the test site was far from urban areas, and safety measures, including evacuation of nearby residents, were implemented in cooperation with local authorities. No casualties were reported.

Residents confirmed being evacuated before the test, with village officials citing a “Tianbing test” scheduled for 2 PM that day. One villager told reporters that the rocket launch site was only about half a kilometer from her home, and that the explosion shattered windows in nearby villages.

According to Space Pioneer’s website, the Tianlong-3 is China’s first large-scale liquid-fueled carrier rocket in the commercial space sector, designed to rival SpaceX’s Falcon 9, with a diameter of 3.8 meters, a liftoff mass of 590 tons, and a payload capacity of 17 tons to low Earth orbit. The two-stage rocket uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as its main fuels. It was scheduled to complete its maiden flight in July 2024, with plans to achieve a commercial launch capacity of over 30 flights per year within three years after its inaugural launch. Industry experts noted this test was a crucial node before the rocket’s maiden flight.

Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of Global Times, expressed surprise at the test’s location and called for more detailed information from officials, stating, “Rocket test flights should not be conducted in densely populated areas. We’ve never heard of a space launch site near Gongyi, Henan.” He pointed out that China’s known launch sites are typically in more remote locations, such as Jiuquan in Gansu, Xichang in Sichuan, or Wenchang in Hainan. He emphasized the need for Tianbing Aerospace to learn from this incident while urging continued support for China’s commercial space sector.


17-Year-Old Chinese Player Dies During Match

A heartbreaking incident occurred during the 2024 Asian Youth Badminton Championships in Indonesia when 17-year-old Chinese badminton player Zhang Zhijie suddenly collapsed and later passed away.

During a mixed team group stage match against a Japanese opponent, Zhang unexpectedly fell to the ground as his opponent prepared to serve, with the score tied at 11-11 in the first game. Zhang began convulsing shortly after collapsing.

The Badminton Asia and the Indonesian Badminton Association later released a statement confirming that Zhang passed away at a hospital at 11:20 PM local time on June 30. According to the statement, Zhang “was rushed to the on-site ambulance within two minutes and transported to the hospital,” but efforts to save the young athlete’s life were unsuccessful. The exact cause of Zhang’s death has not yet been disclosed.

The young player, born in Jiaxing in 2007, joined the Chinese national youth team in 2023 and had a promising career ahead of him.

In an interview before the tournament, Zhang expressed his determination to improve and prove himself through his performance. “Last year’s defeat made me reflect a lot and realize my impatience and immaturity,” he said. “I’ve been working with my coach to become more calm mentally.”

The tragic event has sparked questions about the emergency medical response at the tournament.

Medical professionals have commented that based on the publicly available footage, there is a possibility that the emergency response was delayed. “In cases of non-contact syncope, cardiac arrest should be the primary consideration, especially during high-intensity professional competitions,” explained one expert. “Even if an AED(automated external defibrillator) was not available immediately, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) should have been initiated.”

“It is also crucial to determine whether necessary measures were taken during the transport to the hospital (details pending) and whether further life-saving measures, such as defibrillation, were carried out promptly in the ambulance (or en route),” the expert added.

Emergency medical situations have occurred multiple times in the past during sporting events. The speed and professionalism of the on-site response often make the difference between life and death.


President Xi Jinping’s Central Asian Tour and SCO Summit

From July 2 to 6, Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the 24th Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan. Belarus will officially join as a full member, expanding the organization to ten member states.

The SCO now includes the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, and Belarus.

According to a 2022 report, the total trade value among SCO members has increased nearly 100-fold in 20 years. The SCO’s share of global trade has risen from 5.4% in 2001 to 17.5% in 2020.

Following the SCO summit, at the invitation of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, President Xi will pay state visits to Kazakhstan and Tajikistan.

China has become Kazakhstan’s largest trading partner in 2023. Tajikistan, on the other hand, was one of the earliest supporters of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and among the first countries to sign cooperation documents related to the BRI with China.


China-Serbia Free Trade Agreement Takes Effect

On July 1, the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between China and Serbia officially came into force. This marks a significant milestone in China’s economic diplomacy, as it is the first FTA China has signed with a Central and Eastern European country.

The agreement is set to substantially liberalize trade between the two nations. Under its terms, both countries will gradually eliminate tariffs on 90% of tariff lines. Notably, over 60% of these tariff lines will see immediate tariff elimination on the day the agreement takes effect. Serbian products such as wine, which currently face import tariffs ranging from 5% to 20% when entering the Chinese market, will see these tariffs gradually reduced to zero.

Share This Post